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The Vatican is on Bishop Thomas Tobin’s side on LGBTQ issues. Pope Francis has repeatedly agreed, as well.
The bishop told his Providence, R.I., flock that Catholics should love and support people who identify with those categories — but should avoid “Pride Month” activities.
“They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children,” he tweeted June 1, to a firestorm of criticism.
Now, on June 10, the Vatican has forcefully reaffirmed what Pope Francis has also said on several occasions: Gender-bending ideologies are harmful, especially to children.
Catholic News Service has reported on a new Vatican document signed by the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education that spells out the Church’s teaching with regard to gender and sex.
The name of the document is “Male and Female He Created Them, ” quoting Genesis 1:27:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
The document calls the attempt to make gender self-determined “a cultural and ideological revolution driven by relativism.”
“There is a need to reaffirm the metaphysical roots of sexual difference, as an anthropological refutation of attempts to negate the male-female duality of human nature, from which the family is generated,” the document says.
It adds: “The denial of this duality not only erases the vision of human beings as the fruit of an act of creation but creates the idea of the human person as a sort of abstraction who ‘chooses for himself what his nature is to be.’”
The document takes aim at three key letters in the “LGBTQ” moniker.
“The propositions of gender theory converge in the concept of ‘queer’,” said the document, “which refers to dimensions of sexuality that are extremely fluid, flexible, and as it were, nomadic.”
This situation harms the family, said the document. “Thus, the institutional model of the family (where a structure and finality exist independent of the subjective preferences of the spouses) is bypassed, in favor of a vision of family that is purely contractual and voluntary,” it says, in the Catholic News Service translation of key passages.
The education congregation document says it is important to avoid unjust discrimination, but included a caveat for schools.
“Educational programs on this area often share a laudable desire to combat all expressions of unjust discrimination, a requirement that can be shared by all sides,” the document said. “It cannot be denied that through the centuries forms of unjust discrimination have been a sad fact of history and have also had an influence within the Church.”
However, it warned, “In practice, the advocacy for the different identities often presents them as being of completely equal value compared to each other.”
The document added: “The generic concept of ‘non-discrimination’ often hides an ideology that denies the difference as well as natural reciprocity that exists between men and women.”
It also urged that government institutions such as schools should not discriminate against the Christian view of the matter:
“A democratic state cannot reduce the range of education on offer to a single school of thought, all the more so in relation to this extremely delicate subject, which is concerned on the one hand with the fundamentals of human nature, and on the other with natural rights of parents to freely choose any educational model that accords with the dignity of the human person.”
Pope Francis has long decried what he calls the “ideological colonization” of “gender theory” ideas in education.
In an airplane interview on his trip back to Rome from the Philippines he told the story of an education official in Latin America who was offered a needed loan to build schools for the poor—provided the children be taught from a particular book. “It was a schoolbook, well-thought-out book, pedagogically speaking, in which gender theory was taught. … This is ideological colonization. … They colonize the people with an idea which changes, or means to change, a mentality or a structure.”
He compared this “ideological colonization” to dictatorships that try to brainwash a people from childhood up in harmful social theories, calling the Hitler Youth an example of the phenomenon.
At the same time, Pope Franics has been sensitive that children be accepted and not rejected by their families.
He told La Nacion newspaper in 2014 “how a family with a homosexual child, whether a son or a daughter, goes about educating that child, how the family bears up, how to help that family to deal with that somewhat unusual situation … We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter.”
Nonetheless, he forcefully insists that children’s real needs be respected. For instance, in 2015, the day after a gay pride march in Rome, Pope Francis said that respecting the difference between men and women enriches children.
“What great richness this diversity is; a diversity which becomes complementary,” he said. “Children mature seeing their father and mother like this; their identity matures being confronted with the love their father and mother have, confronted with this difference.”
Pope Francis also urged families to stand up to “ideological colonizations that poison the soul.”
Image: Trishhhh, Flickr.